Restaurants are the lifeblood of many communities. Not only do they feed and entertain local residents, they can bring in business from surrounding communities. When they are owned by immigrants, they can introduce Americans to new and exciting flavors. Americans are eating it up. As noted in Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the U.S. Economy in Growing Industries, immigrants are 38 percent of restaurant entrepreneurs in the United States.
The restaurant owners nominated for The 2018 ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards are adding spice to communities across Massachusetts. Click on the blue markers below to learn about each one or skip down to the list below.
Inna Khitrik is from Russia and created Inna’s Kitchen in Boston to share Jewish cuisine from around the world. She brings to the community a celebration of shared culture and history through a love of food.
Antonio Forte and his daughter Tania are from Portugal and founded The Red Fez Bar and Grill in 2011 to bring Portuguese favorites to Chicopee. The Red Fez has been a community staple through a number of neighborhood transformations and is one of the most loved restaurants in Chicopee.
Umesh Bhuju grew up in an agricultural community in Nepal. Since opening Zumi’s Espresso in Ipswich in 2003, he has emphasized selling only 100 percent fair trade coffee and educating his customers about coffee farmers around the world. With 200 daily regulars he greets by name, ZUMI’S has become a community staple.
Brad Brown is from Canada and he opened The Blue Frog Bakery in 2004 in Jamaica Plain. It features classic bakery items, desserts and bread that was awarded Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston 2015 Best Bread award.
Rodrigo Souza is from Brazil, and he brought a taste of Brazil to Leominster in 2009 with the opening of Comeketo Restaurant. For an even more authentic experience, he recently expanded and converted the restaurant to a churrascaria (a traditional Brazilian Barbecue).
Adolfo Alvarado is from Guatemala, and in 2002 he founded one of the first Mexican restaurants in Somerville, Tu Y Yo Mexican Restaurant. Tu Y Yo serves traditional Mexican dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of numerous Mexican regions. It was awarded Best of Boston 2015 Best Mexican Restaurant.
Husband and wife Elias and Juana Interiano are from El Salvador, and they opened El Potro in Somerville in 2006 to provide an authentic taste of Mexico complete with their own mariachi band. Building on that success, they opened a second location in Lowell in 2013 and a third in Malden in 2015.
Jose Garcia is from Guatemala and launched Ebi Sushi in Union Square in 2011. He was mentored in the art of sushi by another immigrant from Japan. As that business became successful, he started two additional locations: Sapporo Ramen in Cambridge and Sushi Kappo in Boston.
Sun Kim is from South Korea and started Sun Kim Bop to deliver the essence of Korea’s famous street and picnic food to Springfield with a food truck in 2014. She quickly became popular with the lunch crowd and opened a brick and mortar location in 2017. The restaurant attracts foot traffic to Main Street, and the food truck is still available in the summer.
Fahri Karakaya is from Turkey and decided to bring the flavors of the Mediterranean to the Berkshires by opening Pera Mediterranean Bistro in Williamstown in 2011. The flavors have been so well received that this year he is opening a second restaurant, Casa Lina.